Monday, March 01, 2010

Ballstriking Wins Phoenix Open

Ballstriking Wins Phoenix Open

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Hunter Mahan won the 2010 Phoenix Open with top ballstriking and only so-so putting. he was 1st in GIRs but only 71st out of 78 players in putting, with rounds of 30, 32, 30, and 30 putts (122 total). No one in the field stepped up with both top-10 ballstriking and top-10 putting to claim the title.

Of the 13 players who finished in the top 10:

  • Ballstrikers: 4 were top-10 ballstrikers (Mahan & Fowler & Molder & Allenby)
  • The winner (Mahan) was the top ballstriker and the worst putter of the group
  • The runner-up (Fowler) was the next-best ballstriker and the next-worst putter of the group
  • Putters: 3 were top-10 putters (Yang & Ogilvie & Every)
  • All 3 top putters were the worst 3 ballstrikers of the group
  • Tthe next 2 top putters in the 13 (not top-10 putting) (Howell & Piercy) had next-best ballstriking to the top 4 ballstrikers
  • Balanced: 4 were balanced players (Goggin & Couch & Taylor & Viilegas) each ranked about 25-35 in both skills

Finish Player Putts/GIR Ttl Putts GIR (top-10 in red)

1 Mahan T71 54 1

2 Fower T56 62 T5

3 Yang T8 4 T38

T4 Goggin T34 T28 T27

T4 Couch T34 T51 T31

T4 Howell T12 21 T20

7 Taylor T28 T28 T27

T8 Molder T54 27 T5

T8 Allenby T41 T44 T10

T8 Ogilvie T16 7 T50

T8 Villegas T28 T22 T38

T8 Piercy T56 T12 T20

T8 Every T22 T9 T50

Hunter's putting was below average for the field, with total putts and putts per GIR for the four rounds of 30 (1.846), 32 (1.786), 30 (1.750), and 30 (1.706). The field average stat was 1.761 and Hunter's stat was 1.767. Among the 13 players finishing in the top 10, Mahan was the worst putter in the group. The only two players in this group with comparable ballstriking were also not great at putting (Ricky Fowler and Brice Molder, the players next worst to Mahan in putting in the top-10 group).

Mahan's ballstriking ranked 1st, hitting 83.33% of the greens compared to the field average of 69.94%. But with a total of 122 putts, Mahan had difficulty outside 10 feet, missing 19 and sinking 5 in the range 11-19'. He also had poor lags with 10 leaving next putts over 3 feet. In Phoenix there were only 3 par-5s, and despite his advantage with distance off the tee, Mahan played the par-5s with uneven putting. Although he eagled the 13th hole twice (from 16' and 8'), he also 3-putted the par-5 15th and failed to 1-putt after reaching the par-5s with a close-by third shot 6 out of 7 times. Pretty normal event.

On this occasion, Mahan was basically fortunate some other player did not step up with a combined game of putting and ballstriking. No one in the top-10 group had this combination.

The closest top putter in this group to Mahan's ballstriking was Y.E. Yang, who had T8th ranking in putts per GIR, 4th ranking in total putts, and T38 in GIRs. Yang finished two shots back. Whereas Mahan had 7 good putts in the 11-19' range, Yang had 9. Whereas Mahan had 21 poor putts in the 11-19' range, Yang had 8 fewer poor putts in this range (13). Whereas Mahan had 122 total putts, Yang had only 108. Mahan's ballstriking made up 16 shots to overcome Yang's 14-stroke putting advantage.

Ballstrikers can win on Tour without great putting, but putters cannot win when there is a great ballstriker in the field without nearly matching the ballstriking skill and then winning with the putting.


Geoff Mangum

Putting Coach and Theorist

The best putting instruction book in golf history is now available for purchaseas an ebook download: Optimal Putting: Brain Science, Instincts, and the Four Skills of Putting (2008, 282-pages)

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